John and I had the pleasure of attending “Dinners with Dave” at Haven Gastropub + Brewery in Pasadena. This dinner marked the first in a monthly series of limited seat intimate dinners where the main point is to enjoy amazing food, delicious beer, and engaging conversation.
Haven Gastropub started in Orange County about 3 years ago and has enjoyed a high level of success. They featured the decadent Haven Burger as their entry into the gastropub circle, but they also have an extensive offering of other roasted meats and gourmet pub fair. Haven opened up their Pasadena location this last December at the site of the old Pasadena Brewing Company. As luck would have it, they were able to to recondition the old brewery equipment as well as the Alcoholic Beverage Control licenses, which allowed them to open a Brewery along with the restaurant. The Orange location does not have a brewery, so the Pasadena location is unique. Since their debut they’ve been working hard to feature their burgers, their beers, and their star Sous Chef turned Brewmaster, David Larsen. They just recently gained the ability to distribute their beer, so it may only be a short while before you see their beer outside of the Haven and in a pub near you.
The format was different than any other pairing dinner I’ve been to. In fact, it wasn’t a traditional pairing dinner at all. It was a semi-casual private dinning experience with incredible food and drink. The man of the night, Brewmaster Dave Larsen, not only brewed the beer that we drank, but also hand selected the dinner that we were to eat. John and I sat at a long rectangular table with a total of 7 other people as well as Dave (10 people total). The dinner was served family style and the emphasis was on conversation and getting to know everyone at the table. After a brief introduction, a server wheeled a medium sized mobile chopping block into the room. On top, whole roasted chicken that had been marinated in Dave’s own homemade sauce. He cut up the chickens himself while talking to everyone about the beer he had selected for the night. When he was done he sat down and pulled up a plate himself. Butter roasted carrots, bacon garlic mashed potatoes, rosemary roasted chicken, and copious amounts of beer. Although all the beers that were served were great, my vote goes to the most interesting, a pre-prohibition style cream ale, Gross National Happiness, brewed with Bhutanese red rice. An extremely well balanced beer complimented with a refreshing nutty graininess from the rice. This beer alone set the tone of the night. Gross National Happiness was followed up by a clove forward Bavarian style Hefeweizen, a heavier and complex Rye PA, and a Breakfast Stout made with a dash of rauchemalt. Delicious.
During dinner we had the opportunity to meet everyone at the table and swap stories about beer. John and I, having a beer background, were able to also talk to Dave about the brewing side of things. At Haven, he has free reign to make what he wants on the 15 bbl system. He likes to focus on the bigger beers, but at the same time loves some of the lighter ones, such as the cream ale. He’s been home brewing for a long time and has an extensive background in the food industry. From a fish monger, to a butcher, to a hotel restaurant line chef, and finally to Haven Sous Chef, which is were he was able to sell the idea of brewery beer at Haven to the owners. It’s a natural fit. He brings his culinary expertise to the brew kettle, which make his beers unique and inspired.
The dinner was fantastic, and conversation continued well on into the night. We indulged a bit on one of Haven’s premier desserts, gourmet s’mores. When the Jameson was brought out all bets were off. It’s rare that you get to go to a pairing dinner like this. Being able to talk to everyone and really get to know the people you are eating with is a treat. In the end two things can be said for sure: Haven is an awesome restaurant and brewery with an bright future, and Dave is one kickass dude. We can’t wait for the next opportunity to hang out at Haven with David and have some beer and nosh. Be sure to keep your eye on the calendar and Haven’s website for the next one of these events. You definitely don’t want to miss it.
*There is another event at Having coming up this weekend September 16th called “This Little Piggy Went to the Brewery.” It’s a pork inspired beer pairing dinner in collaboration with Golden Road. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased at brown paper tickets here.
Dinner with Dave
Opened in December
Cream Ale – Gross National Happiness – Family Recipe – One of Dave’s Favorites – Bhutanese Heirloom Red Rice – Nutty
100 lbs – Rice – 15 bbl batch
Just got distribution – bring it to orange location. Keg only.
Haven – started in Orange 3 years ago – old town
Opened during steer fair – 300,000 people diluting fair
No brewery in orange. Smaller in orange but more revenue.
Dave History – working I’m food whole life – fish monger / butcher / hotels / haven Sioux chef / homebrew
Give haven owners homebrew – year later opened brewery in Pasadena
1 million dollars put into haven Pasadena
Site of old Pasadena brewery. Haven inherited brew equipment
Brew community is awesome – helped Dave- works with brew community – friends with Cismontane
First Beer Dinner
Grain demonstration – rauche grain, crystal 40, 2 row, chocolate
Cascade, Centenial, oats, smoked malt, chocolate malt.